Rote’s 22-game career proves captivating

Special to the PRESS

Kyle Rote, a Southern Methodist University All-American back in 1949-50, was well known for his football feats, but far less recognized for his baseball ability.

After his college football career, Rote was the number one overall pick of the National Football League’s New York Giants, with whom he signed an estimated $20,000 contract.

While waiting for the 1951 football season to begin, he took a swing at Minor League Baseball in Corpus Christi.

The Aces were members of the Class “B” Gulf Coast League, which included Brownsville, Harlingen, Galveston, Lake Charles, Laredo, Port Arthur, and Texas City.

As the Aces traveled to Brownsville in early May, the Charros were high atop the Gulf Coast League standings. Hopeful fans got a glimpse of the former SMU star when he entered late in the game as a pinch-hitter.

Rote’s first appearance at Lions Park was memorable. He hit the ball way beyond the outfield wall-hugging railroad tracks.

The historic concrete fence at Lions Park/Eagle Field still stands today.

Late in the same month (May 22), Rote had a perfect night in Harlingen, slugging his team to a 12-9 win over the Capitols. He hit a three-run homer, tripled, and singled twice.

Aces’ owner, George Schepps, saw an opportunity to create more fan interest by signing Rote on April 4, and the Wednesday, April 11, opening day ceremonies in Corpus Christi, resembled a football pre-game.

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